The Conestoga Parkway
Our local expressway is a vital bit of infrastructure critical to our local economy that makes navigating much of Kitchener Waterloo a breeze. Living close to the parkway can knock many minutes off your daily commute. I live in the uptown and I could hit the 401 in 20 minutes when I was commuting some years back. Be sure to check out neighbourhoods near access points to the Conestoga Parkway if your daily drive is an important part of the workday.
The parkway is made up of small sections of a number of different highways along its route. In the west end it is Highways 7 and 8, eastbound and westbound. But Highway 8 E. veers off to the south-east at King St. towards the south-east end of Kitchener and on to Cambridge. Highway 7 E. continues north along the parkway until it exits at Victoria and continues eastbound into Guelph. North of Victoria the parkway becomes Highway 85 heading to St. Jacobs and Elmira. To add to the confusion Highway 85 was called Highway 86 from 1980 to 2003.
The expressway’s western boundary is Trussler Rd. in Kitchener. The northern terminus is just south of the Conestoga River north of the 2nd King St. N. Waterloo exit.
The expressway is a great choice for accessing many of Kitchener Waterloo’s neighbourhoods even if they are ones that are further away. But living in neighbourhoods near the Conestoga Parkway makes commuting and getting around a breeze.
The first access on our eastbound road trip is Trussler. This cloverleaf marks the western boundary of the city of Kitchener. Traffic comes from any of the west Waterloo and Kitchener suburbs to the north such as Westvale, Highland West & Beechwood Forest, West Heights and even as far north as Clair Hills. To the south Trussler primarily serves Mannheim, Laurentian West and the newish Trussler community along Huron Rd.
The Fischer Hallman exit and entrance is also busy, in part due to the Sunrise Shopping Centre. The interchange draws traffic from areas to the north such as Forest Hill and Forest Heights, Victoria Hills, Highland West & Beechwood Forest. To the south are Laurentian West, Laurentian Hills, Country Hills West and Huron Park..
Homer Watson is a big and important interchange. This road is the only other access to the 401 aside from #8. There are 2 roundabouts with triple lanes along with multiple access points to the highway at Homer Watson and Ottawa. It feeds the south Kitchener suburbs of Country Hills and Country Hills W., Alpine, Laurentian Hills, Huron Park, Doon and Doon South, Pioneer Park and Brigadoon.
Homer Watson was originally intended to run north to Belmont right through a park I grew up nearby. But there was strong local opposition to this project and Homer Watson ends at Stirling on the border of Lakeside Park. It provides access to the Forest Hill, Lakeside, Southdale and Mill-Courtland neighbourhoods.
The Highway 8 exit provides direct access to the 401 along with Centreville-Chicopee, Vanier, Hidden Valley, Idlewood & Lackner Woods and Grand River S. via Fairway Rd. Further east on the other side of the Grand River is Deer Ridge.
Ottawa is another important junction and feeds the Auditorium neighbourhood as well as the Eastwood and Rockway neighbourhoods. To the east along Ottawa you’ll find Heritage Park, Rosemount, Grand River N. & S., Idlewood & Lackner Woods and Stanley Park.
The Victoria and Wellington interchanges serve Mount Hope, Fairfield North Ward, Rosemount, Heritage Park and Kitchener’s downtown core neighbourhoods; Civic Centre, Central Frederick, Cedar Hill and Victoria Park. You can access the rest of the west end of Kitchener from here but there are better exits to choose from on the parkway.
The Lancaster interchange is a minor one. You can exit onto Lancaster coming south or access #85 going north. The access point primarily serves the Fairfield North Ward community.
Your next exit heading north is Bridgeport. This is one of the best exits for the Waterloo core for commuting and getting around. Bridgeport & Kiwanis park, University Downs, Lincoln Heights and Fairfield North Ward are super close. Going west you can access all of Waterloo’s Uptown, Westmount, Beechwood, University and the areas further afield in the n.w. corner of the city.
The University exit covers these same neighbourhoods (aside from Fairfield N.W.) as well as Glenridge, Lincoln Village, Lexington, Colonial Acres, Carriage Crossing and the rest of Waterloo’s suburbs to the west such as Upper Beechwood, Laurelwood and Clair Hills.
The King St. exit south of Conestoga Mall is great for accessing the mall and numerous neighbourhoods to the east and west in Waterloo. Colonial Acres, Lexington, Eastbridge, Carriage Crossing, Lakeshore and Lakeshore N., University, and even Beechwood and the Uptown can be reached easily.
The Northfield exits are a little more problematic due to the LRT tracks. Heading north you can only exit onto Northfield going west. And Lakeshore, Lakeshore North and Conservation Meadows residents can only head south on the expressway from Northfield.
The opposite is true for westbound traffic on Northfield, meaning you can only go north onto # 85. Exiting the highway coming from the north you can only go eastbound towards the Colonial Acres, Eastbridge, Carriage Crossing and Lexington communities.
The north King St. exit in Waterloo gives access to the Farmers Market and St. Jacobs as well as Lakeshore and Lakeshore North, Conservation Meadows in Laurelwood and the other north-west Waterloo suburbs like Vista Hills and Columbia Forest. Going east you’ll find Colonial Acres, Eastbridge, Lexington and Carriage Crossing.
That’s it for the Conestoga Parkway neighbourhoods tour. If you drive (as many of us do) you’ll love the convenience of the expressway. And for daily commuting, access could be a key decision on where you buy property in Kitchener Waterloo.